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Monday 29 August 2022

Soccer in Victoria: English Game Has Rapid Rise

Another Victorian state-of-play piece, this time in the Herald, Saturday 27 May 1922, page 5. Interesting for a number of reasons, especially the elision of 1. the original attempt to establish the game in the 1880s and 2. the Scottish aspect of the contemporary renaissance of the game in Victoria. Other points of note are the rapid expansion of the game and an early consciousness of the problem of enclosed grounds.

Soccer in Victoria

English Game Has Rapid Rise


For the average Victorian there is only one game of football, and that is the great Australian game. In that we are conservative. Nevertheless, soccer, the popular game of the United Kingdom, is establishing itself on a firm footing in this State, though, of course, there is no likelihood of it ever becoming a rival of the Australian game. 

The existence of the imported game in Melbourne rests mainly on the support accorded it by a staunch follow ing of men from England. That following is gradually growing in strength as every liner brings its fresh batch of new Australians.

On the other hand, soccer is a serious rival to that other great English game, Rugby football. Many persons are convinced that Rugby football is a dying sport. Evidence of this, it is claimed, has become apparent in New South Wales, and to a greater extent in Queensland, where soccer is speedily ousting its rival. New South Wales alone boasts a playing personnel of 6000 soccer footballers, while in the United Kingdom in 1914 there were 16,000 soccer teams, as compare!! with only 1100 Rugby teams, and the contrast is even greater today. In Victoria Rugby football has had little or no success, while soccer has managed to cling on for 14 years, and is stronger today than ever it was. Its history is interesting.


In 1908 a small group of English enthusiasts, among whom were Messrs. H. J. Dockerty, W. E. Cumraings. E. Harvey, and E. C. Crawford, held a conference. These men could never reconcile themselves to our form of football, and they launched the ambitious but seemingly hopeless project of establishing soccer in Victoria. How they succeeded may be gauged from the fact that a small band of 60 followers has grown into 14 metropolitan clubs with a playing personnel of 600 and 2000 supporters. The com bination is known as the Victorian Amateur British Football Association, of which Dockerty is now president, Cummings secretary, and Harvey treasurer. Crawford was a former secretary, and he worked strenuously in the effort to raise soccer to its present status.

Though the standard is not as high, the conditions under which soccer is played in Victoria are similar to those influencing the game in. Great Britain. Even an international flavor is introduced by a yearly match between English and Scottish players, while this season will, in addition, wit ness the innovation of an all-Australian team playing a match against a combination composed of Welsh players.

From this it will be gathered that the game has managed to lure a sprinkling of Victorians. To further intensify the interest in soccer there are the usual cup ties, which bear the name of Dockerty, in honor of the president, and the trophies consist of cups for senior, second grade, and junior divisions, and a handsome shield for the premier team of the Association.


Mr Dockerty has been resident in Victoria for a number of years, and, being an ardent lover of football in any shape or form, he did not neglect to study our own game. He admires it, but prefers soccer, because he says it is more easily followed, there being only eleven men to a side. Furthermore, he claims that soccer is fast and opon, and leaves nothing to be desired from an onlooker's point of view when good players are seen In action in a "passing rush" and exercising that attractive head and foot work which is so distinctive from the Australian hand system. 

An English team may visit Australia in 1923. That is the accomplishment which Mr Dockerty and his soccer colleagues all over Australia are aiming at, and they are confident that it will be realised. The matter is in the hands of a Commonwealth council, of which Mr Dockerty is also president, and which is representative of soccer players in all States. The most im portant factor — finance — has been thrashed out, and Victoria's contribution to the general fund is a minimum of £750. This sum it is proposed to raise by the debenture system.


The lack of enclosed grounds is a sore point with the Soccer Association, for the "gate" means much to the success of any sport. However, during the proposed English visit it is likely that one of the metropolitan cricket grounds will be secured. The itinerary of the English team will have to be so arranged that the matches do not clash with our own games.

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